It’s phonebook season. That time of the year when we are flooded with phonebooks from everyone who can suck advertisers into paying for the yellow page ads. I think I’ve received three or four, so far; generally I throw them away or recycle them. These ‘wannabe’ phone books try to beat the ‘official’ (i.e., Verizon in this area) phone book to the punch by being a month or two earlier.
As a business, I’m a Yellow Pages advertiser. I’ll advertise, some, in the ‘official’ version and it’s time to do the renewal. No changes, except 2 or 3 years ago the “phone company” spun off its telephone directory (Yellow Page) business into another company. And they sent a two page contract, with 22 numbered paragraphs in 8 point type for me to sign blindly – NOT!.
I’m a lawyer. (duh!) I read contracts before I sign them. My (then) wife was in the delivery room in hard labor hatching one of my kids, and I’m reading the fine print in the admission agreement. I’m in kidney-stone-induced-pain at the hospital (Read “Ballast”) and I’m reading the freaking contract. And editing it. And don’t get me started on Nursing Home Admission contracts (if you're not careful you could sign your personal life away to admit Mom!)
So, no surprise, I read the 22 paragraphs. And tinkered with it, striking out or changing stuff like.
- ‘automatic renewal’ – if I want to renew for another year, I’ll let you know. Struck.
- ‘late charges’ – general principals. Struck.
- Collection costs and attorneys fees: Nah.
- Waiver of Jury Trial – Hell no.
- Compulsory Arbitration – Hell Hell No!
- Governing Law is Texas: HELLO!! I’m in Virginia. The phone book is distributed in Virginia. They’re DOING BUSINESS in Virginia. (The irony is that Virginia law probably favors the fools more than Texas law.)
I left in a bunch of stuff that protects them and makes any claim I could dream up worthless. They’re gonna get a paltry $2400.00 for my year of advertising (at $200.00 per month) so it’s not a big deal to me and certainly not to them. Of course the rep called about the ‘changes to the agreement’ and wants me to call her back.